The Resistance Is Streaming: How Online Video Will Save America
The Saturday after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Kathryn Jones attended a meeting in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. It was one that would change her life and, more importantly, may help lead to a different outcome in the next presidential election.
Friends of Streaming Media might already be aware of Jones, a longtime online video trailblazer: This magazine profiled her 12-night WiredArts Fest in the June/July 2013 issue. More recently, she took part in a panel discussion on the future of live streaming at the 2017 Live Streaming Summit East in Manhattan.
That November Saturday, Jones and many other connected and socially conscious people in the New York area were invited to a meeting led by Beau Willimon. Going in, Jones only knew Willimon was a politically active playwright. She didn’t realize that he created the U.S. version of House of Cards and was the showrunner of the first four seasons. Seeing many famous names among the 400 or so in the room, she realized this wasn’t the usual Brooklyn crowd.
Simply walking into the meeting and seeing the many motivated people was a balm for Jones. For the first time since the events of Tuesday evening, her despair and anger began to lift.
“The values and the behavior that [were] elected on November 8th is antithetical to not just my sense of being a New Yorker, but my sense of being an American,” Jones says. “The fact that we have an administration that wants to devastate the EPA. The fact that we have an administration that is run by someone who has bragged about assaulting women. The fact that we have an administration that wants to control women’s bodies. The fact that we have an administration that doesn’t find all humans to be equal. The fact that we have an administration that is inherently racist, and spouts racist comments, and has to put into effect racist laws. That’s just the beginning.”
Willimon introduced himself and spoke of the importance of grass roots movements and the liberal party. Liberals needed to rise up at local levels, he said. Different voices joined in, with attendees volunteering to run activist groups—one fighting for sensible gun legislation, another for abortion rights, another to protect immigration.
Jones hadn’t come to that meeting to take a stand, but as she thought about her background in media she suddenly found herself volunteering to run the media group. So that Saturday became the birth of the Resistance Media Collective, and its goal is nothing less than changing the world.
Taking Action With Online Video
The Collective’s stated mission is to amplify the voice of the resistance through media. That includes recorded and live online video, as well as animation, graphic design, branding, and more. It’s part of a larger group called the Action Group Network, launched by Willimon.
Jones held the Collective’s first meeting the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and the group has met every Tuesday since then. The first 15 or so attendees were all concerned creatives who had been at the Willimon meeting and were willing to put their skills to good use. They included professional filmmakers, documentarians, videographers, live streamers, branding experts, social media gurus, and animators—a cornucopia of creativity with an emphasis on digital.
One of the first decisions Jones’s group—and the partner organizations it serves—had to make was who it wanted to reach and how it would try to reach them. Some felt the group needed to target conservative voters, to educate and persuade them. Jones, however, thinks a better use of their energy is reaching progressive-minded voters who aren’t politically active. While the campaigns her group supports have different goals and different audiences, she feels it’s important to ignite a flame with people who have similar beliefs but may not have been excited enough by the previous election to go out and vote.
Jones admits she’s an unlikely leader for a group like this. She’s never been actively political. She has no experience working on political campaigns or supporting issues. But she’s been involved in digital media since its beginning, uploading videos to Yahoo in 2006. Not only is she experienced in video, but she’s passionate about live streaming and the way it can build community. And she’s not alone in her passion or experience:
“This is the strongest team I’ve ever worked with on any job, any project, paid or unpaid,” Jones says. “My team is filled with brilliant branding and marketing and graphics people. I do bring a ton to the table, but I don’t bring anything to the table without my team behind me.”
Saving America One Video at a Time
The Collective has created a strong and varied portfolio in its short time. Looking at its accomplishments shows the variety that political calls-to-action can take.
A 12-night event streams live music, dance, and theater to a global audience, proving that the arts have a place in online video.
From President Obama to the Tea Party to a "re-enactment" of the Proposition 8 trial, politicians and activists of all persuasions are turning to streaming video to make their point.
Tues., Feb. 2, by Tim Siglin